Some teachers go even more above and beyond than the service they already provide our community every day in the classroom. Jason Hattrick is a physical education and health teacher at McLoughlin Middle School, but he is known as the “kindness guy.” As COO of Life Vest Inside, an organization that focuses on kindness, he uses his connection to students to help spread their mission of empowering, educating and uniting the world with kindness.
“Life Vest Inside equips people worldwide with the necessary tools to recognize their own potential to become a catalyst for positive change in the world,” explains Hattrick. “We transform inspiration into action through inspirational media, technology, education, and on-the-ground social engagement.” For example, to engage the spirit of kindness, kids in his class wear orange on Wednesdays.
Hattrick was also an organizer of last year’s event on World Kindness Day. The event involved groups of people from all over the world doing flash mob dances to the same song at the same time, portraying a powerful gesture of unity. “The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves-beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion, and realize that we are citizens of the world and that kindness is the common thread that unites us all,” says Hattrick.
He also implemented something he coined as the “Hatrrick Effect” at McLoughlin Middle School. “A ‘hat trick’ is three goals in a hockey game and the ‘Hattrick Effect’ is doing three acts of kindness a day – one for yourself, one for a friend and one for someone of your choosing. If you can do that you have completed the ‘Hattrick Effect,’” shares Hattrick.
Life Vest is an advocate for spreading positivity throughout schools, so that young people will make the world a better and more peaceful place. Hattrick is a beacon of this positivity every day in his classroom. “I am the teacher wearing orange almost every day and doing my part,” he shares, “being relentlessly positive in the halls, in morning announcements, and any time that I can. I always respect (students) as an individual and support them in any way that I can.”
Hattrick adds that at Mcloughlin Middle School, it’s not just him that focuses on kindness, but the entire school has efforts in place to encourage all students to be kind. “Kindness is intentionally focused on every day at school,” Hattrick shares. “I am the person that gets to read the morning announcements and we have an ‘AOK (act of kindness) Thought of the Day’ to have students think about it.”
Even when teaching throws him a curve ball, with a student exhibiting challenging behavior, Hattrick chooses to deal with it in an understanding way. “I have always called myself a realist and felt that discipline should be black and white, clear as crystal and focused on a solution versus triaging a wound,” he says. “If there are discipline issues in my class, that just tells me 99 percent of the time that the student is going through something. It is my responsibility to recognize that each student at my school is in the midst of their own personal story and their time at school may be the calmest, safest, and most productive hours of the day. My job is to create respectful and responsible citizens out of each individual that walks into my life on a daily basis. I must do that through my example, by walking the walk and talking the talk, by being authentic and transparent, by being a teacher and learning always and by caring more than I did yesterday.”
Although Hattrick has been a teacher and an administrator for 22 years, he did a lot of exploring first. “I was always fascinated with the variety of opportunities out in the world for me to experience and I took the world up on many of them,” he says. “From my first job out of high school as a landscaper to a facilities manager to a disc jockey, singing waiter, law enforcement officer and more, I embraced the opportunities that came up. Then I was introduced to a man named Greg Joy who was a current teacher at Shumway. He invited me to visit his classroom to observe. I can still remember walking into his classroom and saying to myself ‘this is where I belong.’” All those life experiences are things Hattrick can draw upon when in the classroom.
To this day, even with changing subjects, schools, and positions, he embraces the impact he leaves on his students the most. “I have always loved the variety, but four years ago I was offered the opportunity to teach physical education,” Hattrick shares. “Which by far has been the most fulfilling to date. It’s the perfect opportunity to build quality relationships with every student within a school every single day. It is an opportunity to assist students to be a better version of themselves every day. It is an opportunity to broadly impact the culture of a school every single day.”
Hattrick is not just spreading positivity, he says that teaching has had a positive impact on him as well. “Educators are a family and every student that passes in and out of our lives are our children,” he says. “It has taught me to appreciate the small successes and embrace the moments I have to make a positive difference in students and colleagues’ lives.” For Hattrick, the best part of the day is knowing that, at the end of it, he did everything he could to make his students’ day memorably and amazing.